If you are the victim of identity theft, you need to get your life back on
track. Probably this is the first time this has ever happened to you and you’re
walking in a combination of fear anxiety and depression. You wonder why did this
happen to me!.
Don’t worry you’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people are in the same
position you’re in right now and I want to encourage you. This to shall pass.
I’m not negating the seriousness of your dilemma, but I want you to know that
there is light at the end of the tunnel, so lets get started.
Much of the information in this report was gathered from the FTC website.
The first thing you need to be very wary of is…
Everyday, companies nationwide appeal to consumers with poor credit histories.
They promise, for a fee, to clean up your credit report so you can get a car
loan, a home mortgage, insurance, or even a job. The truth is, they can’t
deliver. After you pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees, these
companies do nothing to improve your credit report; most simply vanish with your
The Warning Signs
If you decide to respond to a credit repair offer, look for these tell-tale
signs of a scam:
* companies that want you to pay for credit repair services before they
provide any services.
* companies that do not tell you your legal rights and what you can do for
yourself for free.
* companies that recommend that you not contact a credit reporting company
* companies that suggest that you try to invent a new credit identity and
then, a new credit report by applying for an Employer Identification Number to
use instead of your Social Security number.
* companies that advise you to dispute all information in your credit report
or take any action that seems illegal, like creating a new credit identity. If
you follow illegal advice and commit fraud, you may be subject to prosecution.
You could be charged and prosecuted for mail or wire fraud if you use the mail
or telephone to apply for credit and provide false information. It’s a federal
crime to lie on a loan or credit application, to misrepresent your Social
Security number, and to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the
Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses.
Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, credit repair companies cannot
require you to pay until they have completed the services they have promised.
No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit
report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your
file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. There is no charge for this.
Everything a credit repair clinic can do for you legally, you can do for
yourself at little or no cost. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act
* You’re entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against
you, like denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you
ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice
will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting
company. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and
plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report
is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
* Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and
TransUnion is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at
your request, once every 12 months. The companies are rolling this out across
the country during a nine-month period. By September 2005, consumers from coast
to coast will have access to a free annual credit report if they ask for it. For
details, see Your Access to Free Credit Reports at ftc.gov/credit. Otherwise, a
consumer reporting company may charge you up to $9.50 for another copy of your
report within a 12-month period.
* You can dispute mistakes or outdated items for free. Under the FCRA, both the
consumer reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person,
company, or organization that provides information about you to a consumer
reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete
information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights under this law,
contact the consumer reporting company and the information provider.
Tell the consumer reporting company, in writing, what information you think is
inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your
position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter
should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts
and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or
You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question
circled. Your letter may look something like the one on page 6. Send your letter
by certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so you can document what the
consumer reporting company received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and
Consumer reporting companies must investigate the items in question usually
within 30 days – unless they consider your dispute frivolous.
They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to
the organization that provided the information.
After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the consumer
reporting company, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and
report the results back to the consumer reporting company.
If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it
must notify all three nationwide consumer reporting companies so they can
correct the information in your file.
When the investigation is complete, the consumer reporting company must give you
the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in
a change. If an item is changed or deleted, the consumer reporting company
cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information
provider verifies that it is accurate and complete.
The consumer reporting company also must send you written notice that includes
the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.
If you request, the consumer reporting company must send notices of any
correction to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can
have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during
the past two years for employment purposes.
If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting
company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file
and in future reports. You also can ask the consumer reporting company to
provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the
recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.
Tell the creditor or other information provider, in writing, that you dispute an
item. Be sure to include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your
position. Many providers specify an address for disputes.
If the provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company, it must
include a notice of your dispute. And if you are correct – that is, if the
information is found to be inaccurate – the information provider may not report
For more information, see How to Dispute Credit Report Errors at
Reporting Accurate Negative Information
When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time
can assure its removal. A consumer reporting company can report most accurate
negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years.
Information about an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years
or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. There is no
time limit on reporting: information about criminal convictions; information
reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a
year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000
worth of credit or life insurance.
There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period.
Generally, the period runs from the date that the event took place.
For more information, see Building a Better Credit Report at ftc.gov/credit.
The Credit Repair Organizations Act
By law, credit repair organizations must give you a copy of the Consumer Credit
File Rights Under State and Federal Law” before you sign a contract.
They also must give you a written contract that spells out your rights and
obligations. Read these documents before you sign anything. The law contains
specific protections for you. For example, a credit repair company cannot:
* make false claims about their services
* charge you until they have completed the promised services
* perform any services until they have your signature on a written contract
and have completed a three-day waiting period. During this time, you can cancel
the contract without paying any fees
Your contract must specify:
* the payment terms for services, including their total cost
* a detailed description of the services to be performed
* how long it will take to achieve the results
* any guarantees they offer
* the company’s name and business address
Have You Been Victimized?
Many states have laws regulating credit repair companies. State law enforcement
officials may be helpful if you’ve lost money to credit repair scams.
If you’ve had a problem with a credit repair company, don’t be embarrassed to
While you may fear that contacting the government will only make your problems
worse, remember that laws are in place to protect you. Contact your local
consumer affairs office or your state Attorney General (AGs).
Many AGs have toll-free consumer hotlines. Check the Blue Pages of your
telephone directory for the phone number or check www.naag.org for a list of
state Attorneys General.
Need Help? Don’t Despair
Just because you have a poor credit report doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get
credit. Creditors set their own credit-granting standards and not all of them
look at your credit history the same way.
Some may look only at more recent years to evaluate you for credit, and they may
grant credit if your bill-paying history has improved. It may be worthwhile to
contact creditors informally to discuss their credit standards.
If you’re not disciplined enough to create a workable budget and stick to it,
work out a repayment plan with your creditors, or keep track of mounting bills,
consider contacting a credit counseling organization.
Many credit counseling organizations are nonprofit and work with you to solve
your financial problems. But not all are reputable. For example, just because an
organization says it’s nonprofit, there’s no guarantee that its services are
free, affordable, or even legitimate. In fact, some credit counseling
organizations charge high fees, or hide their fees by pressuring consumers to
make “voluntary” contributions that only cause more debt.
Most credit counselors offer services through local offices, the Internet, or on
the telephone. If possible, find an organization that offers in-person
Many universities, military bases, credit unions, housing authorities, and
branches of the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service operate nonprofit credit
counseling programs. Your financial institution, local consumer protection
agency, and friends and family also may be good sources of information and
Reputable credit counseling organizations can advise you on managing your money
and debts, help you develop a budget, and offer free educational materials and
Their counselors are certified and trained in the areas of consumer credit,
money and debt management, and budgeting. Counselors discuss your entire
financial situation with you, and help you develop a personalized plan to solve
your money problems. An initial counseling session typically lasts an hour, with
an offer of follow-up sessions.
For more information, see Knee Deep in Debt and Fiscal Fitness: Choosing a
Credit Counselor at ftc.gov/credit.
Even if you don’t have a poor credit history, some financial advisors and
consumer advocates suggest you review your credit report periodically
* because the information it contains affects whether you can get a loan or
insurance and how much you will have to pay for it.
* to make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you
apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or
apply for a job.
* to help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal
information like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card
number to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new
credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the
delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information
like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.
Sample Dispute Letter
Your City, State, Zip Code
Name of Company
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I
dispute also are encircled on the attached copy of the report I received.
This item (identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax
court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is
(inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete
and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific
change) to correct the information.
Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any
enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my
position. Please investigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the
disputed item(s) as soon as possible.
Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair
business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help
consumers spot, stop, and avoid them.
To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit
http://www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY:
The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related
complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to
hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad
Finally one of the most little known & easiest ways ID thieves can steal your
personal information is right over your computer.
You MUST take precautions to protect yourself from crooks, thieves and scammers from harvesting your credit card information, banking information, passwords etc by using commonly available tools to help you put a barrier between you computer and the rest of the worlds.